When I was a kid, I remember my first experiences eating something salty! Who doesn’t love what a pinch of salt can add to the taste of a dish! A little dash here, a sprinkle there and you can really unlock the flavor of a meal! We love our salty chips, our Himalayan Pink salts, and any other version we can get our hands on! Salt adds so much to the eating experience!
Recently, my doctor recommended I decrease my salt intake to improve my health and prevent some issues. I was probably using this particular spice just a bit too much! An interesting thing happened as I made the effort to decrease my sodium intake. Everything tasted too salty! Things I used to love and gobble up all the time lost their savor. They just were not as yummy. As I decreased my salt intake, I became more sensitive to it. Looking back, I must have been eating more salt than I needed! My doctor may have been on to something!
As I have made the deliberate effort to decrease my intake and enjoy things less salty, I have noticed an increase in something that is also described as salty. My kids have started using the word to describe other people. “Salty” has become a slang word of our day. My kids were applying the label so often, I finally had to ask them what they meant.
Interestingly, they told me they used the term to describe someone who was negative, annoying, angry, irritated, and so forth. If you are crabby and mean and acting like a “Karen,” then, according to my kids, you are being “Salty!” Sometimes they had the audacity to suggest that I was salty at times! Kids, these days! Maybe that is why my doctor told me I needed to decrease my salt intake! Maybe it was coming out in my moods! Who knew?
Well, as I have made the attempt to decrease my actual salt intake, I decided I would try to watch my salt output as well! I am generally a good-natured person who is happy just about all the time. In fact, my family knows if I am not happy–or if I am being salty–then I am probably in need of a nap, or a Snickers, or something! Too much salt in our food and in our conduct is bad! No one likes something that is too salty!
Because of my work with people every day, I noticed another trend involving this beloved spice and being too salty. Like adding too much salt to our foods, it can be deadly destructive and can dramatically affect our health. Like adding too much salt to our interactions with others, it can hurt hearts and wound tender relationships. It comes in the way we look at and see ourselves.
When I help people overcome obstacles, make personal or professional changes, or resolve complex personal or relationship challenges in their lives, it is not at all uncommon to have people look at their lives through a very negative lens. It is a natural thing to do and all of us to it! In fact, it takes great effort to not allow yourself to look back at your life with a critical lens.
All too many of us, look back at the past and do so finding fault. Then, we speak harshly to and about ourselves. I have heard many a person say things to and about themselves they would never say to another person. Some of us are downright cruel to ourselves. And it is not without consequence.
Negative self-talk and self-judgement render us powerless, ineffective, and impotent to move forward. The way we talk to ourselves shapes the minutes, hours, and days ahead. Ask any behavioral expert and they will talk to you about the damaging effects of negative self-talk. More often than not, counselors and coaches start by asking and assisting others to decrease the negative voice in their head. I know so many strategies to help people with this. I would bet upwards to 90% of my work with people has some sort of focus on eliminating the negative coach screaming at people in their heads.
Recently, I was studying the story of Lot in the Old Testament and I had a powerful insight and application related to this. Lot and his family were commanded to flee the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. They were told this place they had called home was about to be destroyed and they needed to get out quickly. With that warning came the directive to not look back. And so they fled. However, one of them–Lot’s wife–looked back.
The narrative says she turned into a pillar of salt. A giant pile of salt! I imagine in my mind’s eye one of those Medusa statues where someone right there turned into stone. Only, for Lot’s wife, she was a statue made of salt. At least that is how I see it. And then I saw it another way. It had everything to do with this message!
When you look back at your life and your choices; when you reflect on what you have done, mistakes you have made, or the hard times; when you see the results of choices made here and there, please do not do what Lot’s wife did. Don’t look back and become salty with yourself! It is natural to look back and see where we have come from and what happened along the way. I plead with you when this happens, don’t do it in a way that you become salty with yourself! I believe in learning from the past, but let’s do it without the salt. Too much salt is bad!
Please learn this important lesson: Nothing good comes from being too salty with yourself. Most people correctly believe in their minds and hearts that more good comes from kind words, encouragement, praise, compliments, and positivity. Most of us want to be kinder and strive to do so in our homes and workplaces. We know that kindness matters and makes all the difference. We probably all have a memory of our lives being impacted by someone who was simply kind to us!
So, let’s all resolve to be less salty with ourselves. Let’s talk to ourselves like we would a best friend. Let’s give ourselves some extra grace! We can and should do all we can to better ourselves and our lives. However, let’s do it in a kind and caring way. Let’s remember Lot’s wife when we look back and evaluate ourselves, our performance, and our lives. Then, let’s be careful not to become salty. Let’s be kind in how we speak of and think about ourselves!